ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Will I be Liable for My Parent's Nursing Home Bill?

Few people want to reside in an assisted living facility, nursing home, continuing care retirement community, or other long-term care facility. Most people prefer to reside in their homes with the familiar presence of their family and friends. After one suffers a chronic or acute illness, that is not always possible.

Elder law attorneys advise their clients and their families about available care options to assist in the development and documentation of the client's care plan, and to assist in its implementation. When the care plan includes residency in a long-term care facility, the facility will require the client to sign a binding contract known as a facility admission agreement. The agreement will include aspects of both a lease and also a healthcare service agreement.

To minimize the likelihood of disagreements, misunderstandings or unintended consequences, the client and the client's family should have an elder law attorney review the facility admission agreement prior to the client signing it. The following are some of the provisions that Cynthia Barrett, an Oregon elder law attorney, recommends that an elder law attorney should explain to the client and, if necessary, negotiate with the facility:

Representative liability/responsible party provisions and liability. For example, is a child signing the facility admission agreement on behalf of the child's parent liable for the cost of the care? The answer is maybe. The child may be liable based on the terms of the agreement, statutory duties of support, or transferee liability.

Arbitration provisions. Does the agreement provide that the client is waiving the client's  right to seek the assistance of a court for injuries or breach of contract? Frankly, there is no good reason for a resident to sign an arbitration agreement at the time of admission.

Definition of services provided and cost. Does the agreement describe in sufficient detail the extent and nature of the services that the facility will provide and the cost of those services? Does the client expect services that the facility is not able to provide in an acceptable manner?

Medicaid. Does the facility accept Medicaid reimbursement if the client's funds are spent down?

Transfer of asset restrictions. Does the agreement impose transfer of asset restrictions?

Discharge? What needs of the client will trigger a facility request that the client move, as the client is beyond the staffed level of care? If the facility discharges the client, what alternative settings for care are available?

Elder law attorneys should review long-term care facility agreements, and they should discuss the responsibility and liability for the cost of care with the client's family.  The Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm can advise their clients and their families about available care options to assist in the development and documentation of the client's care plan, and to assist in its implementation.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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